If you were a child in the 1950s, you were likely a part of Davy Crockett's fan base. The legendary frontiersman experienced a resurgence in popularity more than 100 years after his death, thanks to a little help from Mr. Walt Disney. Between 1954 and 1955, Disney aired five episodes of "Davy Crockett" on television, and the series chronicling Crockett's larger-than-life adventures became an instant success. Different singers' recordings of the show's theme song, "The Ballad of Davy Crockett," sold millions of copies. Crockett's trademark coonskin cap (which looked pretty much like a raccoon sleeping atop the wearer's head) became a fad among preadolescent fans and ironic teenagers alike. All told, more than $100 million worth of Davy Crockett material was sold within just a few months of the Disney show's premiere [source: New York Times]. Even the U.S. government caught Crockett fever: In the early 1960s, the army produced a lightweight artillery launcher that fired mortars equipped with small nuclear warheads. The army named the setup the "Davy Crockett" [source: Brookings Institution].
This wasn't the first time Davy Crockett enjoyed far-flung fame. While he was alive, he attained celebrity status — during a time when newspapers and books were the only available means of publicity. Yet Davy Crockett still emerged as an international star. Many books and plays based on (and grossly exaggerating) his life and exploits were written. And following his death as a defender of the Alamo, his legend grew even larger.
Crockett was an expert frontiersman, eschewing the comforts of Eastern cities and pushing westward to carve a life out of the American wilderness. But it wasn't until Disney got involved in Crockett's legend that Davy was pronounced "king of the wild frontier." It wasn't such an exaggeration given some of his documented exploits.
Today, with the TV show off the air more than 60 years, many people are not as familiar with him as they were in the past and they may not know he even spent time in Congress. So, who was the real Davy Crockett?